Amazing Villages

With Rare Genetics

There are some villages where people with rare genes or diseases, although different from their families and communities, have become just the norm.

Many of us are born and live as ‘normal,’ without any genetic deformities or conditions that would render us differently. But, there are villages with people that are born or developed particular genetic conditions that we class as ‘different.’ In their communities these people are accepted and have become the norm.

Check these 10 villages with people that have rare genetic conditions.

10. Araras - Village Can’t Handle Sun

In the village of Araras, in Brazil's midwest, lives a group of people who daily struggle against the sun. It is home to the largest community suffering from a rare inherited skin disease known as, ‘xeroderma pigmentosum,’ or 'XP.' About one in 40 people which is far higher than the one in 1 million people in the United States have it.

Those with the disease are extremely sensitive to ultraviolet rays from sunlight and highly susceptible to skin cancers. Sadly, it also robs victims of the ability to repair the damage caused by the sun. It’s a particularly vexing burden in Araras, as it’s a tropical farming community where outdoor work is vital for survival.

9. Kalachi and Krasnogorsk – Sleeping Villages

In 2013, almost one-quarter of the residents of two Kazakhstani villages, Kalachi and Krasnogorsk, started falling asleep. The unexplained ”sickness” can strike at anytime – at work, in bed, or even just walking down the street and sufferers can sleep from a full day to nearly a week. Victims often wake up disorientated, and some have reported hallucinations. It can affect almost anyone, regardless of age, sex, health, and even cats and dogs.

The mysterious sleepiness has baffled doctors, but some including scientists suspect the abandoned Soviet uranium mine next to the two villages which led to lower levels of oxygen and the random bouts of sleep. But the repeated sleeping attacks has yet to be proven. Until the cause is identified, ‘everyone is afraid of sleeping.’

8. Wewelsfleth - The German Cancer Village

The village of Wewelsfleth, in northwest Germany has a population of only 1,500 and dubbed the ‘village of the damned,’ because almost every household has a cancer sufferer. The residents here have a 50% greater chance of developing the deadly disease, and there are no explanations for this.

Some residents put the blame on the three nuclear power plants in the vicinity, and a shipyard where vessels were sprayed with highly toxic paint. When around 142 cancer cases exist in a village of 1,500 residents, it quite understandably, that the villagers are concern and wants a serious inquiry into the situation.

7. Hogewey - Dementia Village

The Hogewey village in Weesp, Amsterdam is unique. For instead of putting their dementia-afflicted elderly in a nursing home, a group of health-care workers created this village where dementia patients could live out the rest of their lives with less hands-on care and more freedom. It also costs less for dementia-afflicted loved ones to live in the village than to be sent to a regular care facility.

The village has its own town square, theater, garden, and post office. There are cameras monitoring residents every hour of every day with caretakers that are inconspicuous. Families and friends are encouraged to visit. There is only one way in and out of town and the community have a safe security system. Residents at Hogewey require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear more joyful than those in standard elderly-care facilities.

6. Yangsi - Village Of The Dwarfs

Yangsi, a remote village in China is unusual because 45% of its residents born and raised in Yangsi are dwarfs. This has baffled scientists because the odds of a person born having stunted growth or as a dwarf is 1 in every 20,000, which makes the number of dwarfs in Yangsi almost statistically impossible. The tallest dwarf in the village is 116.84cm (3ft 10inch).

Many believe that the high mercury concentration in the soil is a possible reason but it is unfounded. Yangsi remained in the clutches of this unusual stunned growth phenomenon for over sixty years, and its only recently, the new generation seems to have escaped dwarfism.

5. Ikaria – The Greek Island of Longevity

On a Greek island of Ikaria, longevity is the norm rather than the exception. Ikaria is situated in the world’s 'Blue Zones' areas where people live longer and healthier. It is common that men and women live well into their 90s, and many become centenarians.

Ikarians are physically active well into old age, even maintaining a healthy sex life. The contributing factor is their diet of locally grown wild vegetables, goat’s milk, herb tea; and little meat and refined sugar. They also nap in the afternoon, a factor in reducing the risk of heart disease, and they also tend to die naturally.

4. Velikaya Kopanya - Land of the Twins

Velikaya Kopanya village, is known as Ukraine’s ‘Land of the Twins,’ because of its record-breaking 61 pairs of twins among less than 4,000 inhabitants. Since 2004, at least two and three sets of twins are born every year. Surprising the twin-effect also applies to cows, and twin cows born are record high.

Locals believes it is the water, and that the local spring has special properties that boost fertility. Apparently an infertile woman living 100 miles away drove to the village, drank its water and a few months later, she conceived twins. Ukrainian scientists who tested the water said, 'it’s the cleanest and tastiest water in the whole region,' but the twin-effect is still puzzling.

3. Bengkala - Village of sign language

In the remote Balinese village of Bengkala, the 3,000-odd residents can fluently communicate in ’kata kolok,’ a centuries-old sign language. The village have a high incidence of deafness, caused by the geographically-centric recessive gene DFNB3, for over seven generations. So naturally in time the villagers developed their own unique sign language, which has been passed on for centuries.

The 42 kolok (deaf and mute villagers) are physically strong, resilient, more loyal and are treated with utmost respect. Their qualities are so renowned within Bali that people from neighboring communities often seek them for shelter and protection in tough times.

2. Salinas - Town of the late organs

In the small, remote village of Salinas in the Dominican Republic, some babies are physically and biologically male, but do not grow a penis until they hit puberty. Seemingly, their families dress and raise them as girls. The rare genetic disorder, is caused by a missing enzyme, resulting in a late surge of testosterone until the age of puberty, when boys (who are referred to as ‘guevedoces’) form their male organs and their voices deepens.

1. Antioquia - Elderly care for Alzheimer children

It is normal for adult children to take care of their elderly parent, especially when they regress into diseases like, Alzheimer. But in the village of Antioquia, in north-western Colombia, the role is reverse. Elderly parents in their seventies and eighties are taking care of their adult children. The village of Antioquia have over 5,000 people afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s, making it the world’s largest population of Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Some people believe it’s due to many centuries of in-breeding in the village where a defective gene known as the ‘paisa’ mutation have been passed on, which led to multiple cases of children developing Alzheimer. Unfortunately, medical researchers have made no headway other than preventative treatment.

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